#NISP update: The Larimer County Planning Commission holds first public hearing

Aerial view of the roposed Glade Reservoir site — photo via Northern Water

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

Dozens of in-person and remote speakers aired their concerns about the proposed $1.1 billion water storage and delivery project, which would include building Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins.

Issues raised about the massive project proposed by Northern Water included the ecological impacts of drawing water from an already heavily used Poudre River to store in the reservoir, the routing of pipelines that would carry water to participating communities, and the effects construction of the reservoir and pipelines would have on nearby communities…

A decision of record on the Environmental Impact Statement for NISP is expected to be released this year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project has received water quality certification from state regulators…

The Planning Commission is considering an application from Northern Water for a 1041 permit — named for the state law that grants local governments permitting authority over certain infrastructure projects — for the siting of the reservoir and associated recreational facilities, including a visitor center, boat ramps and campgrounds. The permit also covers the routes of four pipelines needed to convey water from Glade.

Commission members heard presentations on the reservoir and pipelines from county staff members and Northern Water on June 24. Wednesday’s four-hour hearing was dedicated to taking public comment.

Of the approximately 40 people who spoke individually or as the representative of a group, only one spoke in favor of NISP. The county has received several hundred emails from residents opposing the project…

Northern Water has said the dam site is safe and structures will be designed to withstand seismic activity and soil shifts.

Residents of the Eagle Lakes subdivision blasted the proposed routing of a pipeline from Glade through their neighborhood that would connect with another pipeline near the county line and carry water south.

Northern Water would likely have to use its eminent domain power to get the 100-foot easement it wants for constructing the pipeline, said Eagle Lake resident Mark Heiden…

He said alternative routes through open land are available if Northern Water were willing to pay the additional cost, which he estimated at $3 million.

Area homeowners complained they would have to endure many weeks of disruption from construction activity and loss of use of their property because of the easements.

Northern Water has said it would pay property owners fair market value for easements and restore disturbed land to pre-construction condition or better.

Several speakers compared the proposed pipeline to the city of Thornton’s plan to run a massive pipeline along Douglas Road. The proposal was fought by No Pipe Dream and others.

The county commissioners rejected Thornton’s proposed route last year. Thornton has sued the county in District Court over the decision…

The Planning Commission continued its hearing to July 15, when members will hear additional information from staff and Northern Water before deliberating on its recommendation on a permit to the county commissioners, who will decide whether to grant the permit.

The commissioners have scheduled multiple hearings on the permit application for NISP in August.

After the public comment was completed, planning commissioners listed several questions they want addressed by county staff or Northern Water at the next meeting. The questions reflected issues brought up during public comment, including whether Northern Water has sufficient water rights to fill the reservoir and provide recreational opportunities.

Northern Water has said boating would be possible on the reservoir 90% of the time.

Commission member Nancy Wallace said she wants to hear more about how plans for the project address climate change and other “big picture” issues…

What’s next

The Larimer County Planning Commission is scheduled to have its final meeting on NISP beginning at 6 p.m. July 15 at the County Courthouse Offices Building, 200 W. Oak St. in Fort Collins.

Attendance will be limited to 50 people because of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

The planning commission will make a recommendation on a permit for NISP to the Board of County Commissioners, which will decide on the application.

Hearings by the commissioners are scheduled:

  • 6 p.m., Aug. 17 – Presentations only; no public testimony.
  • 2 p.m. Aug. 24 (break from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
  • 3 p.m. Aug. 31 (break from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
  • 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2 – Questions, final deliberation and decision
  • Speakers will be limited to 2 minutes each. Borrowing, lending or grouping time will not be allowed.

    Information: http://larimer.org/planning/NISP-1041

    Map of the Northern Integrated Supply Project via Northern Water

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